The Bahrain International Circuit will host the fourth round of the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship. Designed by Hermann Tilke, BIC made its F1 debut in 2004 and was the first circuit in the Middle East to do so. The grand prix has never been won by anyone from beyond the first two rows but neither has it been particularly favourable to drivers on pole – only three times in seven runnings has the pole-sitter gone on to win the race. It has, however, been a circuit that rewards a strong car with six out of the seven races being won by the team that has gone on to win the Constructors' Championship. The one exception being 2010 – though eventual Champions Red Bull Racing were leading the race comfortably until a faulty spark plug caused Sebastian Vettel to fall back.
For 2012, F1 is going back to the 5.4km Grand Prix Circuit configuration as used in 2009, rather than the 6.3km Endurance Circuit on which it raced in 2010. The revision to the earlier layout cuts out a large slow-speed sector of the track, bringing down the number of corners to 15 from 24. One peculiarity of racing in the desert is the amount of dust on the circuit. Bahrain sees a great deal of track-evolution over the weekend as cars clean the racing line. Another factor with the dust is the amount of attention teams pay to air filtration and monitoring engine wear – ingress of sand or dust into the engine is potentially catastrophic.
The circuit itself is very smooth and doesn't have the harsh kerbs seen elsewhere, meaning teams can set ride-heights low but still attack apexes aggressively. This is a heavy braking circuit and calls for unusually high levels of brake cooling. Managing that and providing the right level of traction on the evolving surface are both key technical issues. McLaren go into this race holding a lead in both championships but Bahrain has not been a race at which they have prospered in the past, having neither a victory nor a pole position at BIC.
Bahrain International Circuit
Length of lap:
5.412km Lap record
1:30.252 (Michael Schumacher Ferrari, 2004) Start line/finish line offset
0.246km Total number of race laps
57 Total race distance
308.238km Pitlane speed limits
60km/h during practice;
100km/h during race
CHANGES TO THE CIRCUIT SINCE 2010
The Bahrain Grand Prix will revert to using the 15-corner Grand Prix Circuit configuration last used in 2009 rather than the Endurance Circuit configuration used in 2010.
There have been no changes to the Grand Prix Circuit since 2009.